Immerse in the Balinese Culture


There was a village stay in Ubud on the second day of the Asia Pacific Co-operative Youth Summit (CYS). Upon arrival at our respective villages, we unpacked and headed over to Rumah Topeng, where we learnt the Kecak dance and had a traditional Balinese lunch.


We had a traditional lunch called Megibung. Food were spread on a mat on the floor and there were four people sharing a single mat. It was definitely a different experience for us and we had to eat with our hands too.


The Kecak Dance was also known as the monkey dance whereby performers gather in a circle to dance with checked cloths around their waists. The performers continuously chant  the word “cak” while using their hands and arms in the dance to show a Ramayana battle between the good and evil. It is a traditional Balinese dance and music drama and participants of the Summit were invited to learn it together. We were separated into groups for different sections of the Kecak dance and had some practises before performing at the end of the day.


From these cultural experiences, we learnt to appreciate differences and the power of cohesiveness.


Audre Lorde once said that it is not our differences that divide us but the inability to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences. Participants of CYS came from different various cultural backgrounds and countries such as Bhutan, Australia and China. However, through these two cultural experiences, it was evident that we were able to put aside our differences and learn about another culture together. At first, it was awkward and slightly uncomfortable to learn the Kecak dance as we were not used to the chanting and making such expressive movements with our limbs. In spite of that, we were still proactive in learning to pick up the different dance moves and patterns of chants. It was indeed heartwarming to see everyone enjoying themselves eventually and putting in efforts to immerse in a different cultural setting. The Balinese meal has also taught us to further value differences. Though most of us do not have the habit of eating with our hands, we were enthusiastic about sitting down to have a great meal together! It was definitely an enjoyable time as the traditional meal was delicious and everyone had great conversations with one another. These two events have taught us the importance of appreciating differences because it is only when we truly accept differences then we will not be afraid of the unknown but instead, embrace and live in harmony with it.


Rudyard Kipling, author of the Jungle Book stated in his book: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Another important learning point that we have acquired is definitely the importance of teamwork and unity. This point was especially highlighted in the Kecak dance. The performance of Kecak dance requires the voices and movements of not just an individual but of a team. It is impossible to be performed by just one person as there are many roles to fill in. However, with many different individuals coming together to perform the Kecak dance it becomes an interesting and amazing experience for all! Through this event, we definitely understood the significance and power of teamwork.


In conclusion, the village stay in Ubud was an insightful experience for all of us. We feel grateful for having the opportunities to further understand the importance of appreciating differences and having teamwork. These cultural differences lead us to believe that appreciation of differences can surely make us stronger and cooperation with one another can take us further than where we are now.


Vanesse Tang & Cennic Chan

Diploma in Social Enterprise, Year 2, Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Consumer Co-operative Society